Today’s Internet users are a hurried bunch. Small-time delays appear to be insignificant, but they have a significant impact on user experience. This is especially true for eCommerce sites, where a three-second delay is estimated to result in a 40% abandonment rate.
In other words, a slow website will kill your bottom line. People simply do not like to wait and will click away after only a few seconds. With hundreds of other websites just a mouse connect away, you really need to capture a user’s attention — having to wait for your website to load does the opposite. Keeping this in mind, having a fast, efficient website is a must for success in today’s competitive online environment.
If you’ve been struggling with the website speed, there are a number of free WordPress plugins you can use to improve things – Pingdom is a great tool for testing your current load time to get a baseline. When it comes to your website’s load speed, plugins are only a small piece of the puzzle. Other factors that can improve your performance include a better host, a content delivery network, and a less bloated theme, to name a few. WordPress plugins, on the other hand, are a good place to start. I’ve selected six free WordPress plugins, each of which performs a different function.
Table of Contents
1. Caching Plugin: W3 Total Cache
A caching WordPress plugin is a must-have in the category of quick wins. The W3 Total Cache plugin is one of the most popular and highly rated caching plugins. A caching plugin is required for all webmasters, and a plugin like W3 Total Cache will significantly improve your load time. Its creators guarantee a 10x improvement in overall site performance, which is a very bold claim!
The W3 plugin’s main rival is the WP Super Cache plugin, which some users prefer because it is slightly more user-friendly.
2. Image Size Plugin: Smush
Smush is another WordPress plugin to consider. WPMU DEV created this plugin to make it easier to optimise images in various ways – all while they are being uploaded. You can also implement optimisation manually in the past. Image lazy loading, resizing, and compression are among the features available. You can expect lossless compression, a bulk smush option that allows you to compress up to 50 images at once, and an incorrect image size notification that identifies images that are too large, allowing you to resize or compress them and improve your site speed.
The Smush plugin works by removing all meta data from JPEGs and unused colours from indexed images. As a result, the file size is reduced, the load time is reduced, and there is no discernible loss of image quality. Check out our image optimisation tips if you want to see some more WordPress plugin options.
3. Database Plugin: WP-Optimise
Every post, page, and comment in your WordPress database is saved, as is every revision you make. Every time a user requests one of your posts, it must be retrieved from this database. The more junk you have in there, the slower your website will become. With every revision and auto-save taking up space, optimising your database can result in significant speed improvements.
WP-Optimize is my preferred WordPress plugin for this task. This plugin adds to the de-cluttering of your database in a variety of ways. To begin, the plugin makes it simple to delete excess post revisions that you no longer require — if, like me, you make a lot of revisions per post, this can save a lot of space. It also allows you to quickly remove any spam comments that have been queued up, which can be time-consuming to remove manually. Another useful feature is that it simplifies deleting unwanted content rather than simply storing it as trash.
If you want to know how effective this plugin is, it can tell you how extensive your current database is and how much space optimisation can save you.
4. Lazy Load Plugin: Lazy Load
The Lazy Load plugin is another option worth considering. As the name implies, it displays images only when a user scrolls to that part of the page. This means that the initial view can load very quickly, increasing overall page speed, improving user experience, and frequently improving SEO. The WordPress plugin supports images within posts, pages, widgets, and thumbnails. It is also applicable to YouTube iFrames.
5. Lightweight Social Media Plugin: WP Socializer
Following that is the WP Socializer plugin, which adds social media icons as well as a sticky or floating share bar to your WordPress website. The great thing about this WordPress plugin is that it is incredibly lightweight, which means it will not slow down your site as many other social share plugins do. The setup is simple, and the output is also adaptable. It also works with the majority of the major social media platforms.
Another WordPress plugin worth considering is the Plugin Organizer, which simplifies the process of keeping your installed plugins organised. That is, it allows you to specify which plugins are loaded first. With this level of granular control, you can significantly improve page speed. You can also disable specific plugins when a specific post type or URL is loaded. However, this is a plugin that should be used with extreme caution because it has the potential to break your website. Make a backup of your site before using it!
7. General Optimization: Hummingbird
8. Minification: Asset CleanUp
9. Script Optimisation: Flying Scripts
10. Script Optimisation: Flying Analytics
Wrapping It Up
By installing these WordPress plugins, you can significantly improve the speed of your website. It’s as simple as that: the faster your website loads, the better it is for your users. A satisfied user is more likely to return to your site to consume your content, increasing your subscriptions, social shares, and conversions. A fraction of a second does matter! If you have another WordPress plugin that has helped improve the load speed of your website, please share it in the comments section below!